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Thousands turn out to see the Queen

PAGEANTRY and symbolism combined to form a powerful Maundy Money service attended by the Queen in Canterbury today.

In a packed building of about 2,300 people there was an expectant ripple throughout the congregation as the Royal helicopter was heard overhead. As the trumpet fanfare announcing her arrival sounded people strained to see the Queen and what she was wearing - a lemon-coloured dress.

She sat with the Royal party in the Presbytery.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, gave the blessing during this his final Maundy Money service.

It was the first one for the new Dean, the Very Rev Robert Willis, who had written an anthem for the service.

There were many processions during the service, all highly symbolic. They included bishops in their plush robes and choristers and they formed in the choir with some recipients of the money before her arrival.

The service is a link with history. The terms used indicate Medieval origins.

Slightly anachronistic the distribution of the money is still regarded as important.

During the Maundy procession there is a set order of people. It is led by the Queen, and followed by the wandsmen, the Lord High Almoner, the sub-almoner, the yeomanry with the money and the four Maundy children.

During the ceremony the Lord High Almoner handed money to the Queen who presented it to the recipients.

The Duke of Edinburgh read the first lesson from the Nave Pulpit, and the Dean, who also led the prayers, read the second.

The money was distributed after each lesson, first down the south side and then down the north side.

Among the Royal party were the Yeomen of the Guard, who carried the money on special plates on their heads, and the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as the Lord-Lieutenant for Kent.

The Lord High Almoner and the Sub-Almoner, also in the party, both had strips of ceremonial towelling wrapped around them to symbolise the washing and drying of feet.

Four Maundy children, specially picked for the service, were among the Royal Almonry procession.

All members carried nosegays to symbolise the washing of feet.

Representatives of four church denominations said prayers.

The Queen later visited the University of Greenwich at the Medway campus.

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